Today was my kiddo’s first day back to school after Thanksgiving break. I woke up completely exhausted with an upset stomach. I tried to imagine myself at the gym and immediately felt nauseous. I came home from dropping her off and went back to sleep for a few hours. I could have stayed in bed all day if I hadn’t dragged myself out. Shit.
There are lots of possible explanations. The full holiday weekend, the fact that it’s been freezing rain with no sunshine in days, the sudden drop in temperature; all reason enough to be extra tired. It’s not that I can’t take a nap on occasion, but as we roll into the cold winter months I begin to pay close attention to my energy levels. Today may have just been my needing a nap, but it kicked me into gear for my winter planning.
Why plan for depression? So that it doesn’t swallow me. I haven’t had a serious bout of depression in about 8 years. Since having a baby made locking myself up in a room, writing bad poetry and not leaving the house for weeks is no longer an option. Which I attribute to significant changes in my self-care overall, diligence in taking small things seriously and planning my winter wellness thoughtfully.***
- The main thing is that I get stricter with myself about exercise. I know that sounds very unlike me, normally Captain “move as I please.” But mid-winter I can almost guarantee my motivation will be low. So I make sure I have a plan in hand. This year it’s this one (which I’m super pumped about! That helps a lot). The last thing in the world I will want to do when it’s cold and dark is move, and it will be the first thing on my list of priorities. I am still mindful of rest days but usually opt to at least walk on those days too. Movement becomes very important, to literally keep me moving.
- I keep up with my meal planning. I am often blown away the difference, even in my mood, when I am eating well. I am one of those people who plans, shops and cooks for the week. I make all my lunches and make or prep most of our dinners. I love spending hours in the kitchen, once. I find this both a nice way to spend my Sunday and so much more ease in the rest of the week. In the winter that usually means a huge batch of soup or stew for mine and my husband’s lunches and a few meals that with left-overs will handle the rest of the week.
- I utilize quiet time thoughtfully. A “veg session” can nose dive into a “non moving” spiral. So I spend more time with guided meditations, walking meditations, writing, baths, anything that isn’t just laying around. Again, there’s nothing wrong with laying around, but for me during this season it’s something I try to avoid.
- I schedule time with friends. I’m a bit of a home-body. Especially during Kansas winters when it is ridiculously cold out. In an effort to keep an enjoyable level of hibernation as well as not go completely stir crazy, I schedule (almost) weekly times with friends to catch up. It gives me something to look forward to and sort of insures that I’ll have someone checking in with me.
There is no one way to deal with seasonal depression. It’s important to find what works for you. For me, thoughtful planning is key. It helps me get through the funk and feel empowered in the process instead of feeling the quick sand like back-slide to darkness. I want to live fully in all the seasons, and this one requires I really show up for myself.
To a happy winter,
***By no means are my plans meant to be a prescription. What works for every person is specific to them (including pharmaceuticals for those who need them). I do personally advocate for overall wellness planning as opposed to any one measure that neglects the rest of the whole. But I can’t say what that looks like for anyone but me.